Global Glance: Special counsel abruptly named to probe Trump-Russia ties; US households owe record amount, topping pre-recession peak

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Here are today’s top business headlines from across the nation and world:

Special counsel abruptly named to probe Trump-Russia ties

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to lead a federal investigation into allegations that Donald Trump’s campaign collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 election that put him in the White House. Mueller will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he uncovers. The surprise announcement to hand the probe over to Mueller, a lawman with deep bipartisan respect, was a striking shift for Trump’s Justice Department, which had resisted increasingly loud calls from Democrats for an outside prosecutor. It immediately escalated the legal stakes – and the potential political damage – for a president who has tried to dismiss the matter as partisan witch hunt and a “hoax.” Read more

US households owe record amount, topping pre-recession peak

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. household debt reached a record high in the first three months of this year, topping the previous peak reached in 2008, when the financial crisis plunged the economy into a deep recession. Americans have stepped up borrowing over the past three years, yet the nature of what Americans owe has changed since the Great Recession. Student and auto loans make up a larger proportion of household debt, while mortgages – the epicenter of the financial crisis – and credit card debt remain below pre-recession levels. Those changes suggest households are still cautious about taking on debt to fuel day-to-day consumption. Read more

Kochs unveil campaign to ‘jolt’ stalled tax debate

NEW YORK (AP) — The Koch Brothers’ political network is preparing to spend millions of dollars to ensure their vision for tax reform isn’t lost in the increasing chaos consuming President Donald Trump’s administration. The network’s leading organizations, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners, on Thursday released a set of general preferences for major changes to the tax code. While explicitly stating their opposition to new border-adjustment or value-added taxes, there were few specifics in a document that was designed to inject a new sense of urgency into the stalled tax debate. Read more

ECB could start considering stimulus exit at next meeting

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Officials at the European Central Bank have indicated that their next meeting would be a good time to consider shifting toward an exit from the stimulus efforts that have boosted the economy. A written account of the April 27 meeting showed members of the bank’s rate-setting council expect that if the economic recovery keeps going, they would have to consider “adjusting the present formulation” of their stance. Read more

What’s your past salary? Lawmakers to want to ban the question

NEW YORK (AP) — An awkward job interview question – how much did you make at your last job? – is getting banned in some parts of the country. Massachusetts, New York City and Philadelphia have passed laws that bar employers from asking applicants about their salary history. And several states, including California, Mississippi and Pennsylvania, have proposed similar legislation this year. Supporters say the bans are one way to help close the wage gap between men and women. Some business advocates, however, say the bans hurt companies that use salary histories to help them set wages. Read more

Poll says blacks less likely to have enough for retirement

CHICAGO (AP) — Older white Americans are nearly twice as likely as African-Americans to say they’ve saved enough for retirement, a new poll found. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey also found that African- Americans and Latinos have less financial security than whites and will rely on fewer sources of income during retirement. The retirement savings gap between white and other minority groups extends beyond pensions, 401(k)s or other retirement accounts. Read more

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